Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Strength of a Woman

The Nobility of African Motherhood: Strength of a Woman in the light of Jesus’ Mother
Ayieko, John Abraham
St. Thomas Aquinas National Seminary, Lang’ata
The woman’s place in the society has perhaps generated more debate than any single issue in human relations. It is one debate that has taken different directions; yielding widely differing conclusions depending on the kind of people who discourse on it – be they traditionalists or scholars, women themselves or men, feminists or chauvinists, as indeed, any other category of people. Examining the concept of motherhood in Africa, and juxtaposing it with its Jewish equivalent, we endeavor to lay bare the dignity of motherhood, both in Africa, as well as among the Jews, and with it, the prime place of the woman. To what extent, we ask, would Mary’s Motherhood serve to nourish the faith of the African mother, as well as enable her to realize her true calling? The Virgin Mary’s Blessedness as portrayed in the Magnificat showcases a unique and perfect paradigm towards understanding the exalted vocation to Motherhood. We also present the many precious gifts, intricately intertwined with the gift of Motherhood. In this article, we realize that the brave masculine men of our experience are actually far weaker than the tearful women we eagerly want to speak for.
The subservience of the female gender in Africa is not easy to dispute. Within and across African cultures, the girl-child was not only seen as predetermined for the ‘sorry’ state of womanhood, she was also treated as such throughout her growth and development. The young African girl often wondered why she had to go through so much too early in life. Nearly all domestic chores rested on her. Hers was the task of cooking, fetching water, fetching firewood, washing clothes and utensils, minding the little ones and any other such tasks that called for attention.  Her brother would often be expected to relax and play around if he was not shepherding the family’s animals. He actually effectively added to the burden of his own mother and sisters.
So enslaving was the role of women in the traditional African societies that the term ‘woman’ among male peers would pass for sufficient invective without any need for qualification. To be called a woman was strong enough an abuse to warrant a bloody fight. This place of the girl-child and subsequently womanhood would even be used to justify the African society’s preferential treatment of the male child when formal education was eventually introduced. Many African families would rather educate boys who would later be helpful in raising another family. The girl-child was seen as an itinerant on transit to another place. The only value in her would be directly proportional to the bride wealth she would attract to the home.   
Among the Luo in Southern Nyanza province of Kenya, the girl-child was seen more as merely having strayed into the home to which she really did not properly belong. Any girl who had reached puberty could never even be buried within the homestead. She would at best be accorded a rushed burial outside the gate; and yet a male child would never be buried outside the safety of the family homestead. Up to the present time, burying a male luo outside the family home can only be painfully tolerated.
Our argument in this paper is that the state of motherhood suddenly changed the woman’s fortunes within the society. We further establish the fact that, in a culture where talking was widely associated with power, authority and control, the woman’s imposed silence poised her to generate much reflective wisdom over the domineering men.
Jewish culture seemed to have striking resemblance to many African cultures, especially on the different worlds of barren women, girls who fell in pre-marital pregnancy and legitimate mothers. What value did bearing children add to the largely demeaned place of the woman? We ask. It is interesting that whenever a woman also became a mother, a perfectly new, unique and highly exalted status was tied to this role. Any woman as mother would no longer be merely a woman. John Mbiti, in his Introduction to African Religion tacitly states;
Pregnancy is a joyful period for the woman and her family. If it is the first pregnancy for her, it assures everyone that she is able to bear children. Once that is known, her marriage is largely secure, and the relatives treat her with greater respect than before.[1]
There appeared to be a radical shift as well as a humble, yet urgent redefinition of the place of a mother in African societies. In order to appreciate this shift, we will begin this discussion by considering the place of a mother in the Jewish world, especially against that of a childless or barren woman.

Motherhood versus Barrenness among the Jews
The Hebrew scripture easily reveals the very high position of a mother, and of course the pain and agony of barrenness. In the Jewish culture, inability to bear a child was easily explained away as a punishment from God for some grave misdemeanor.[2] Michal, the daughter of Saul was for instance condemned to a childless life because of mocking David for dancing before the Ark of Yahweh (1 Chr 15:29; 2 Sam 6:16). Sarah, desperate for a child offered her own servant maid Hagar to bring forth an heir for Abraham. And Hagar, drunk with pride in her new blessed status of motherhood started looking down upon the childless Sarah (Gen 16:4). We also encounter Hannah who could never be consoled out of her barren status by the genuine love of her husband, and who prayed so insistently that Eli the priest thought she was drunk (1 Sam 1:10). The importance accorded the wife as mother is stated tersely by the Yahwist; “The man called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all the living.”[3] The awesome role of motherhood was held with exceptional honor. “Childbearing was a social function in ancient Israel, and fecundity, barrenness, and loss of children were of urgent concern to men, women, and the nation.”[4]
Woman versus Mother in Africa
There exists a very unique resemblance between the African concept of motherhood and that found among the Jews. Just as in the Jewish culture, childlessness in Africa was and still is perhaps one of the most torturous experiences for any woman. In many African societies there was no greater threat to marital union than the misfortune of barrenness and consequently male sterility. The joy of every African home is children. In much the same way as happened in the Jewish culture, a barren African woman often invited a fertile lady as a co-wife, to bear children for the family. Mbiti’s observation would perhaps bring this point home sooner; “Through marriage and childbearing, the parents are remembered by their children when they die. Anyone who dies without leaving a child behind or close relative to remember him or pour out libations for him is a very unfortunate person.”[5] Infertile men also discreetly arranged with their cousins to help sire children with their wives – children they would then father. This practice would however be carried out on mutual trust and with uttermost secrecy; for it was unthinkable that a normal African male would fail to impregnate a woman. The seriousness of the matter even gets clearer when we learn of arrangements that were made for a dead son to be married in absence in some communities.[6] With no intention whatsoever of digressing into fatherhood, an area that indeed deserves its own research, we have at least been able to appreciate the fact that nothing was left to chance in ensuring that a child was born to a family.
‘Stolen Marvels’ in the Life of an African Mother
We must be clear from the outset of the distinction between the lone term ‘woman’ as opposed to a ‘barren woman’ among the Jews, as compared to the two terminologies as employed in an African context. It is actually the case that the term ‘woman’ among the Jews commanded a unique power of its own. However, it appears that implicit within the term was the potential it communicated; the ability to bring forth new life.
In Africa however, any woman who did not subscribe to marital union and consequently failed to bring forth a child was often regarded with searching suspicion. In fact, pre-marital pregnancy would still earn a young lady a position slightly above a single, childless and unmarried woman. Many grandparents as well as parents embraced their daughters’ children with some guarded pride. Such ladies would after all eventually get spouses, even if not on their terms. This state of affairs has not changed much even in our time.
Be she married or single, woman’s function is seen clearly within the lineaments of her sex, in its propensities and special powers… Now, a woman’s function, a woman’s way, a woman’s natural bent, is motherhood. Every woman is called to be a mother, a mother in the physical sense, or mother in a sense more spiritual and more exalted, yet real, nonetheless.[7]
It is therefore the concern of this paper that the African mother is often soon robbed of the joys of her prestigious calling in the event of other cultural rituals, notably initiation. As opposed to ancient Israel where “no higher status could be given to anyone than was given the mother,”[8] the African mother finds herself still easily categorized with children, apparently because they share physical weakness. This would clearly never have happened in Israel where wisdom is personified as a woman, “Wisdom appears as a woman in five passages in the book of the Proverbs (1:20-33; 3:13-18; 8:1-36; 9:1-6)…Wisdom has become a wealthy woman, or possibly a fertility cult goddess.”[9] Salvation history in Israel is also more than once hinged on heroines such as Judith, Esther and Ruth.[10]
The need to recover the true and authentic vocation of motherhood in Africa is indeed urgent. It is time the African woman rediscovered her very exalted and irreplaceable position both in God’s plan and in the society. In order to enable women see more clearly their prime position in God’s plan and their resultant indisputable worth, we, in this paper propose the motherhood of Mary as the relevant model from which to powerfully begin our project as well as proceed. In the next chapter, we attempt to present the implication of ‘The Theotokos’, giving its meaning and impact, and exploring its relevance in cheering up the African mother.
The council of Ephesus decreed in 431 that Mary is Theotokos because her son Jesus is One Person who is both God and man, divine and human.[11]
Etymology of the Word Theotokos
Theotokos is a compound of two Greek words qeov, (God) and Tokov, (parturition or childbirth). Literally, this translates as God bearer or the one who gives birth to God.[12] Theotokos specifically excludes the understanding of Mary as Mother of God in the eternal. The Nicene Creed is clear that Jesus Christ is actually born ‘in time’ of Mary (Theotokos). It thus refers to the incarnation when the second Person of the Holy Trinity took on human nature pre-working divine nature, this being made possible through the cooperation of Mary.
The mainstream Christians understand Jesus Christ as both fully God and fully human. They therefore call Mary Theotokos to affirm the fullness of God’s incarnation. It is indeed only logical that being truly the mother of Christ, Mary was also the mother of God; in Christ, God and man are one.[13] Braun in his book “Mother of God’s people” says;
From the moment the mother of Christ was the mother of God-made-man, Mary’s maternity and God’s paternity met in a unique terminus. Each of them had the very same son: He because of his eternal generation; she, in virtue of her temporal childbirth.[14]
The church therefore sets forth the Virgin Mother’s true Motherhood of the Son of God as a cherished article faith. As a young Virgin, Mary had, as the church teaches, given up conjugal life as a sacrifice of love. She had given herself as God’s handmaid even before her ‘election’. She had wanted to serve and live for God after all. That is probably why she tells the angel Gabriel; ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’ (Luke 1:38). I am his servant entirely, she seemed to say ‘…may it be done to me according to your word’. The choice of Mary to live as a virgin was already an act of great love of God. She had chosen to take the part of the despised for the love of God. She had obviously not imagined bearing a child of a human being, a decision she had resolved to endure, knowing full well the exaltation of motherhood, and knowing too that Virginity for the sake of the Kingdom was still higher. But the possibility of mothering God’s Son had apparently never crossed her mind even for a moment. And yet this is the gracious surprise that visited her.
With the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), Mary was suddenly numbered among the greatest. Her, who was a lowly childless servant, now carried in her womb the Son of God. This marvel is clearly at the origin of the Magnificat which is an outburst of deep joy, faith and wonder at the love of God. The ‘fortunes’ of Mary have been reversed. Mary is indeed filled with grace because she has both kept her virginity as she had wished, and at the same time, has had the honor of being the mother of God. All generations thereafter would certainly call her blessed!

The ‘magnification’ of the Lord by Mary in her song of praise commonly referred to as The Magnificat is an exhaustive and richly formulated response which adequately points to the magnitude of the privilege.
Some have argued that the content of the Magnificat are very ‘unlike’ Mary, the young, innocent and deeply humble Palestinian girl, believed to have been only in her early teens. And yet the Magnificat is an exposition of the blunt truth. Faced with the illustrious song that the Magnificat is, the self-pity with which African women view themselves is clearly misplaced. Even sadder is the fact that they seem to very effectively pass on this distorted image to their children who then grow up wondering why they had to be born girls in the first place. The Magnificat is a bold assertion of the privileged place of motherhood. Following is a brief analysis of some of the statements that compose the song of Mary.
 My Soul Glorifies the Lord, my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…
Mary’s spirit, now united with the Holy Spirit rejoices at the fulfillment of a promise that must now come to pass through her instrumentality. This is precisely because the annunciation is the moment when the Old Testament ends and the new begins. We pass from promise to fulfillment.[15]
…He looks on his servant in her lowliness; henceforth all ages will call me blessed…
Before the annunciation, Mary was in the lot of the little known within the society. She was moreover from the humble family of Anne and Joachim, the almost unknowable anawim. And yet we easily find in scripture a portrait of Mary which exalts the woman by her dynamism, her audacity, the responsibility she assumed, her communion with human pain and joy.[16]  Mary is therefore eternally blessed because of her radical love and humility through which the pride of Eve is neutralized and surpassed. When the African woman delivers a child and introduces it to the Christian faith through baptism, she also surpasses the pride of Eve – in her own small way.
…The Almighty works marvels for me, holy his name…
This movement that begins with annunciation goes from virginity to motherhood, a motherhood into which Mary enters with full freedom.[17] Beyond the already marvelous mystery of Virgin Motherhood, Mary’s blessings are countless. “It was unthinkable for Judaism and unthinkable for a simple, uneducated Jewish girl to believe that she was going to hold Yahweh’s child, the God of Israel in her womb… But the text is certainly saying that whatever the mystery was, Mary was the choice of God, and by every standard, she was an extraordinary person.[18] This extraordinariness of Mary is shared by all women. The marvel of bringing forth new life is entrusted only to the woman. In her is God’s ‘workshop’ and venue of wonderfully molding his own image.
 …his mercy is from age to age, on those who fear him…
Mary is well aware that she is not alone. She is aware that Israel has collectively been waiting for a redeemer. Her motherhood was thus to be exercised as a universal spiritual motherhood. For the nation of Israel, Mary joins the list of the prophets of Israel in her own style: “She is in and for humanity. God never gives anything to one person alone; it is always for the service and salvation of all.[19] In Mary’s case, it is a promise made by God through the prophets. Mary knows – and the entire Israel with her – that God’s sending of the Messiah is an act of mercy. The African woman and indeed all women should, like Mary, be convinced that they bear children, not for themselves, but especially for the entire human family. This is perhaps what many proponents of abortion are yet to understand. Humanity is far bigger, far gracious, and far too important to ignore in the face of any imaginable claim that would be used to warrant the termination of such a purely miraculous reality as a pregnancy.
 Theotokos as the Seat of Wisdom
Mary is presented to us as a person who did not speak much, just like Joseph her husband. ‘In the range of her human qualities, one could first of all be struck by her capacity to reflect and to go to the heart of things.[20] All the way from annunciation, ‘we see her trying to grasp the meaning of the salutation.’[21] In the Virgin Mary, the wisdom of humility repairs for the pride and arrogance of the first parents. While Eve of old attempts to be like God, Mary surrenders in humility at the service of God.
Having looked at Mary’s reflective and silent disposition as a mark of wisdom, and having noticed too that her humility directly earned her the unique role of bringing forth the Lord, we now wish to proceed on the path of discovering what similarities may exist between our understanding of Mary’s wisdom, and what impact this would have in the situation of the African mother.
The Wisdom of the African Woman
The paradox in the mentality of many African communities is that those in power and authority have more freedom to express themselves in speech without limit. Silence, even in Africa, was regarded as a sign of humility. A child who did not retort back to his seniors was considered respectful and therefore wise. In social gatherings as well as in clan and family meetings, women in attendance (where this was allowed) were expected to remain quiet and even unresponsive. They were not even allowed to nod their heads in approval, especially in apparent support of an unpopular idea. This was also the required norm of conduct for servants, strangers and visitors – silence.
What traditional African societies failed to grasp probably, is the wisdom only attainable in reflective silence. Even among the Jews, women, and in our case, Mary, had clearly been thoroughly schooled in the art of keeping many things in her heart. Luke is keen not to forget this aspect of reflection in the life of Mary to an extent that he mentions it twice within the span of only twenty-two verses (Luke 2:19, and again in Luke 2:51). “Mary, the reflective woman who ponders what is happening to her; who stores all these things in her heart and ruminates on them, reminds us of the philosophers and announces the mystics and Theologians.”[22] In Mary, the African woman feels, not merely encouraged to become even more reflective, but also sensitized on the privileged position they find themselves in.
By virtue of her silence, the African woman is well placed to ponder on the numerous things that she witnesses, and consequently generate wisdom. Even though more men than women trot the globe in unending attempts to broker peace, the truly wise and deeply insightful peace-makers, after God’s own heart, are women. The gift of motherhood naturally caries with it the in-built capacity to preserve the very life it brings forth. Motherhood abhors violence. In societies where women are actively involved in peace-building and reconciliation, true peace has reigned. The open secret that juvenile delinquency is easily checked when young men enter into marriage is a further testimony to the all-important and special gift God has placed in motherhood. If only more men would give way, and, if only more women would discover the precious gift each one of them is, even the constant threat of nuclear arms race that so unsettles our generation, would assume a healthier tone. The African woman should therefore indeed be proud to identify with Mary. ‘Mary is one of them. All of them could reach the depth of her reflection.’[23]
African mothers were, and still are believed to wield great influence over their children. This power is particularly evidenced by the fact that a mother’s curse is dreaded more than that of a father. A querulous young man therefore knows that he might not risk pushing the mother as far as he could probably go with his father in argument. In many African cultures, the tears of a mother always yielded results accordingly. If she shed tears of joy occasioned by her child, such a child received even greater blessings. But should a mother cry over pain caused by her own child, and should she fail to forgive such a child, the child stands accursed. Even in Hebrew scripture, there seems to be some allusion to the efficacy of tears. For instance, the prayerful tears of Hannah that yielded the boy Samuel (1 Sam1:10); the tears of Susanna, the wife of Joakim that yielded justice through the young Daniel (Daniel 13:35); or even the tears of Queen Esther, weeping over Haman’s malicious plot to exterminate the nation of Israel (Esther 3-5).[24] We are aware too of the more historically recent tears of Monica that helped convert the errant Augustine of Carthage. For a reason as yet unclear, all these tears belong to women, and they changed history in an irreversible fashion.
All legendary personalities were born of women. Such women who gave rise to great people also had some qualifying stories behind them, for the simple reason that they were regarded as extraordinary. It is partly because of this that Mary’s Motherhood of God finds a familiar echo within the thought-categories of the African woman. Confronted with Mary’s divine role of mothering God, the African Christian woman has had to respond accordingly. I is this is that we seek to examine in the next section.
The Divine Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a providential paradigm from which the African woman could ascend to the privileged position of motherhood. The mere potentiality of becoming a mother should be enough reason for women to thank God unceasingly, because one of their own has represented them in the work of salvation.
As we have indicated in the foregoing pages, many cultures across Africa, unlike the Jewish culture seem to assign both womanhood and motherhood the same value. The need for survival among the Jews particularly raised childbearing to the level akin to a salvific activity. “The child bearers, those who replenished the strength of the family, may be presumed to have had an importance in ancient Israel nearly inconceivable to those of us living in an age facing overpopulation.”[25] In Israel, on the contrary, a mother was seen to be one used by God to guarantee life to the chosen race. As the chosen people, survival was a matter of life and death. Numbers became a crucial issue. They occasionally found themselves face to face with rival groups that often challenged them to war. During moments of little faith, they would find some consolation in a large army. It was precisely against the foregoing background that motherhood became such a noble calling.
On the contrary, the African mother, gagged by constant reminders of her subservience easily fails to notice what an invaluable role she plays, and what an enviable position she inherently occupies in the society.
God’s choice of Mary,  a young teenage girl of very humble descent has a direct bearing on the attendant greatness that issues even more directly from her bringing forth of the son of God. The treasure of mothering the Son of God is exclaimed by one un-named woman when she remarks; “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that suckled you” (Luke 11:27). This woman in the crowd, who shouts from the safety of her anonymity, seems to recognize the two basic endowments of motherhood, the womb that holds and nurtures, and the breasts that nourish.
Mary’s greatness in a way therefore sprang directly from her womb and breasts. In Mary, through Mary and together with her, all women, and particularly those who feel demeaned by long-held cultural biases, have a reason to thrust their necks out of the hard shell of fear and reclaim the nobility of Motherhood! It is only upon the realization of this gracious nobility that every African woman would be spurred to burst into a Song – like God’s Virgin Mother.
The Magnificat of an African Mother
While Mary sang the Magnificat as an outburst of joyful sentiments for the unimaginable honor of becoming the mother of God, the African woman sings yet another Magnificat; praising God for the fact that one of them brings forth the Savior. Mary’s Magnificat is inspired by God’s action; the African woman’s Magnificat is inspired by Mary’s response to it. The image of the woman, seen even in the Old Testament as the cause of the fall is now redeemed in the person of Mary. And far beyond this, the image of the woman, especially within cultures that have institutionalized female subservience, is irreversibly redeemed.
The Magnificat the African woman sings therefore is one of a God who looks upon her despised and weak female nature to bring salvation to the human race; for indeed all generations will call the ‘womb’ that carried the Saviour, and the ‘breasts’ that suckled him, blessed. The almighty has worked marvels for Motherhood, his name is Holy. His mercy is from age to age, on those who trustingly wait on his love. He has put forth his arm in strength and scattered the proud hearted traditionalists. He casts the arrogant men from their seats, and raises the despised…
The role played by Mary as Theotokos in God’s divine plan is one which is inarguably at the center of the gift to the world of womanhood. The fact that God chose to take the path of nature in every step towards the salvation of the human race is indicative. Furthermore, apart from her pure nature, Mary added some of the most glorious values that make all of us present to God’s grace; grace which Mary receives in total measure. These are Humility, Trust in God and Obedience. Above all else, Mary’s entire response to God’s call, and her resolute ‘Yes’ to a role she could only play because of her gender, should serve to liberate the many African women who continue grinding in ruts of gloom and apathy.
As Pope John Paul II puts it in his Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, ‘Motherhood as a human fact and phenomenon is fully explained on the basis of the truth about the person. Motherhood is linked to the personal structure of the woman and to the personal dimension of the gift: “I have brought a man into being with the help of the Lord” (Gn 4:1).[26]  Mary’s Blessedness is uniquely shared by all who share the two precious gifts that enabled her to mother the son of God; the womb that bears and the breasts that suckle. She is blessed among women, and all women are also blessed because of her humility. All African women must now rise to enjoy their precious privilege of having Mary on their side. This is especially because, as our sharing reveals, the tone of the Magnificat would not have changed a bit, even if the Blessed Virgin Mary would have been born and brought up in any named African village. Mary uniquely combines both spiritual motherhood by her virginity as well as physical motherhood by bringing forth Christ; becoming a truly gracious model to those in consecrated life, as well as those in marital life. What more would one expect when fullness of Grace and purity of Humble and Obedient human nature embrace!

BIGOTTO, GIOVANNI, Mary, The Mother of Jesus: Exegesis and Spirituality, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa 2000.
BRAUN, F. M., Mother of God’s People, New York: The Society of St Paul 1967.
JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (15 August 1988), Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa
LO LIYONG, T., ed., Popular Culture of East Africa, Nairobi: Longman 1972.
MAGESA, LAURENT, African Tradition, The Moral Traditions of Abundant Life, New York: Orbis Books 1997.
MBITI, JOHN S., Introduction to African Religion, London: Heinemann 1976
OTWELL, JOHN H., And Sarah Laughed: The Status of Women in the Old Testament, Philadelphia: The Westminster 1977.
The African Bible, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa 1999.
THE MONKS OF SOLESMES, The Woman in the Modern World, Boston: St Paul Editions 1959.

[1] J. S. MBITI, Introduction to African Religion, 82
[2] We particularly take note of, among many other illustrations Rachel’s response when she gets a child; i.e. ‘God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach”; and she called his name Joseph, saying ‘May the LORD add to me another son!’ (Gen. 30:22f). See J.H. OTWELL, And Sarah Laughed, 53
[3] J. H. OTWELL, And Sarah Laughed: The Status of Women in the Old Testament, 55
[4]J. H. OTWELL, And Sarah Laughed: The Status of Women in the Old Testament, 50
[5] J. S. MBITI, Introduction to African Religion, 105
[6] J. S. MBITI, Introduction to African Religion, 106
[7] THE MONKS OF SOLESMESS, The Woman in the Modern World, 131
[8] J. H. OTWELL, And Sarah Laughed: The Status of Women in the Old testament, 66
[9] J. H. OTWELL, And Sarah Laughed: The Status of Women in the Old testament, 185-186
[10] The stories of Esther, Judith and Ruth are classic illustrations of the uninterrupted role played by women in the life of Israel, and by extension in the salvation of humankind through the Blessed Virgin Mary.
[11] http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theotokos
[12] http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theotokos
[13] F. M. BRAUN, Mother of God’s People, 45
[14] F. M. BRAUN, Mother of God’s People, 45

[15] G. BIGOTTO, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Exegesis and Spirituality, 82
[16] G. BIGOTTO, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Exegesis and Spirituality, 12
[17] G. BIGOTTO, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Exegesis and Spirituality, 93
[18] G. BIGOTTO, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Exegesis and Spirituality, 98
[19] G. BIGOTTO, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Exegesis and Spirituality, 12
[20] G. BIGOTTO, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Exegesis and Spirituality, 218
[21] G. BIGOTTO, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Exegesis and Spirituality, 219
[22] G. BIGOTTO, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Exegesis and Spirituality, 219

[23] G. BIGOTTO, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Exegesis and Spirituality, 219
[24] It is equally important to take note at this point of Peter’s tearful repentance after denying the Son of God in the Passion Narratives.
[25] J. H. OTWELL, And Sarah Laughed, 50-51
[26] JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (Dignity and Vocation of Women, 15 August 1988), Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 43

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